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Old 06-30-2010, 02:10 PM   #1
Houston Remodeler
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Silicone caulking for DIYers

This is one good way to achieve a perfect joint using 100% silicone, or pretty much any caulk for that matter. The pictures that follow were taken from one of our kitchen countertop installations, but the same technique is used for bath tubs and showers. We used GE silicone from Homer, tile from Italy, grout from CBP.

First picture shows how the tape is installed. We like to use the 3/4" 3M blue painters tape as its very thin gauge helps prevent what we will show a little later on. Some people use other tapes for other reasons.

Tips from this pro;

1- Grout first. Let that dry before caulking. Silicone doesn't stick to water. Latex caulk won't get a top notch bite.
2- Make sure the joint surfaces are very clean and dry. Remove any excess grout from the joint before it cures.Vacuum if you think its needed.
3- Make sure the tape is pressed well into place. Rub every inch with your finger.
4- If taping over paint, make sure its at least a week old.
5- If you install the tape from left to right over lapping the next piece as you go, then remove it from left to right. This will peel the tape off in one long section and not little bits.
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Last edited by Houston Remodeler; 07-02-2010 at 09:10 AM.
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Old 06-30-2010, 02:13 PM   #2
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This is how I like to trim the tip of every tube of caulk.

Tips from this pro;

1- Use a very sharp razor
2- Check the expiration date. Silicone is like milk, not wine
3- Keep a roll of terlit paper handy to clean your fingers, one square at a time.
4- An expensive caulking gun is worth the money.
5- Make the cut as small as you can so the bead size matches the desired outcome. You can always go back and cut it larger. You can't make it smaller.
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Old 06-30-2010, 02:16 PM   #3
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This picture shows the bead of silicone applied after I ran over it once with a DRY finger.

Tips from this pro;

1- Take your time as you run the bead of caulk. Be sure to get it deeply under the tile and not just on top.
2- Work in small manageable sections. I like to go about 5 feet max with the caulking gun before going back to smooth it.
3- Remember to release the pressure from the tube when you get to the end
4- Keep that roll of TP handy to wipe the tip of the gun and your finger.
5- If you have any skips or air pockets, THIS is the time to fix them. Just add more silicone and use your clean dry finger to wipe the excess.
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Old 06-30-2010, 02:19 PM   #4
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This picture shows what happens sometimes when you peel the tape away. The sides of the tape, thin as it may be, grabs the silicone and does this to it: Have no fear, there is an easy solution.

Tips from this pro;

1- Pull the tape at a sharp angle to the opposing wall. This will help prevent it from yanking the silicone and making a mess.
2- Keep an open trash bag handy to drop the messy sticky silicone covered tape into.
3- That roll of terlit paper is still around to wipe your fingers on.
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Old 06-30-2010, 02:24 PM   #5
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Final picture.

Smoothing the silicone can be accomplished in several ways. There are all sorts of tools for this. I prefer to use my finger, coated with a liberal amount of spit. I find spit contains just the perfect amount of oils and water to smooth the silicone. I use my own spit. You can get yours at any handy source.

Tips from this pro:

1- Be sure to wipe your finger on the toilet paper before sticking it in your mouth the second time
2- Clean hands
3- Speed is somewhat important. The steps listed are all done in a row, back to back with NO break in between. Silicone will start to skin over tight away. No cell phones, no distracting kids, no watching sports while you are caulking. Sorry dad.
4- Run your finger down the joint at a moderate, even pace for the whole joint. Stopping and starting makes waves or lumps.
5- Don't poke at or get grout dust onto your new bead of silicone for 24 hours. As much as you like to admire it, don't touch it.
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Old 06-30-2010, 02:34 PM   #6
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That looks GREAT. Now I actually WANT to caulk something.
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Old 06-30-2010, 04:55 PM   #7
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I do seem to have that effect on people.
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Old 06-30-2010, 05:28 PM   #8
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Looks great Paul. The only thing I do different is the spit part. I use soap and water mix. You can touch sillycone all day with soapy finger. I prefer a nice Lavender scent since it has a calming effect.

I just take a spray bottle and squirt my finger with it. You can squirt the joint but it isn't advisable although many pro caulkers (union guys) do it. Supposedly it can have negative consequences bonding the caulk to the other part (glass pannels, aluminum, concrete).

As long as it is tooled first though and contact was made on the dry surface your good to go with the soapy water. Try it sometime with soapy water. The bead turns out perfecto. This is how a couple of union guys taught me to caulk with caulking that actually has to be mixed in a bucket and sucked up into a special caulikng gun. That gun cost me 100 bucks or so.
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Old 06-30-2010, 06:33 PM   #9
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Thanks for the input Ben. I'll give it a try on my next caulking job.

I am hoping more pro's continue to add tips and tricks.
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Old 07-04-2010, 03:35 AM   #10
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great advice as always Paul. Thanks
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Old 07-04-2010, 05:03 AM   #11
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Paul, well put! I have been using this method for many years when I use silicone caulk and it works great. I saw someone do it on TV, a woman! I do it exactly like you do step by step. One of the keys as you mentioned if you have too much silicone there and you pull the tape it pulls the edge of the silicone with it. It takes getting used to but its a matter of having just enough there and not too much.

As for using your finger to go over it, I found a new product would you believe they call it "Caulk Smoother" you just spray a little a this over before you run your finger, but it does have a rather strong scent and might bother some. As Ben mentioned you can always use soap and water. Paul mentioned about fresh paint, same goes for wallpaper, I have had that come off. If you have tape on wallpaper you might want to use a damp sponge and go over the tape to make it easier to pull off and less change a taking it with
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Old 07-04-2010, 10:12 AM   #12
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With nearly 300 visits in less than a week, I think that's proof that simple clear instructions like this are needed in our library.

Thanks to the mod's for working on the library. I know what an anonymous job that is.
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Old 07-21-2010, 06:36 PM   #13
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Nice tutorial, Paul! I tape off too. I use the soap and water mix after the bead is struck, like Ben does. It works well.
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Old 07-21-2010, 06:56 PM   #14
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wow! So thats how you do it!

I was using my helpers spit the whole time, now I know why my caulking jobs turn out not as nice as yours.
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Old 07-21-2010, 07:13 PM   #15
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Another great tutorial Paul...

(Warning: Chemistry mode on)

I use the tape and smear method as well, but I always use Isopropyl Alcohol (aka Pseudo propyl alcohol; isopropanol; sec-propyl alcohol; persprit; secondary propyl alcohol; IPA; propan-2-ol; 2-propanol; dimethyl carbinol; alcohol isopropylicus; petrohol and a few others I cannot recall at the moment) on my finger to smooth the bead, as opposed to spit, or a soapy solution. Homely Burrito and sLowest sell a silicone caulk smoothing liquid in the paint department. The primary ingredient is good 'ole alcohol, but the cost will make you think it contains liquid Platinum... I use the cheapest rubbing alcohol I can find for this task (70% usually), the medical grade (90%+) is superb, but not necessary.

(Chemistry mode off...)

Yes, I love chemistry... Well, some of it anyway!
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